With train and bike near Amsterdam
When I was 14 years old, I went for the first time on holiday “alone” with the youth group of our municipality. In the following year again and then at sixteen years old, I went with my best friend and a few guys from the class for party holidays in the neighboring town of Lloret de Mar, Spain. These journeys were indeed funny, but also exhausting. At 17 then my best friend and I felt old enough – we wanted to plan our own trip, alone.
We booked a train ticket at the counter including a bike right up to the coast and started looking for a campsite on the Dutch North Sea coast, not far from Amsterdam. We reserved the campsite by phone, our age was no problem, there is even a small area for young people 16 years and older. We borrowed camping equipment from friends and family and packed our bike bags. Our parents couldn’t stop us from taking a huge backpack full of clothes.
On the day of our departure, it was already a small challenge with all the luggage to go into the trains, but mostly the people at the station offered us help with carrying. As soon as we were at a Dutch train station everything was easier, train stations and trains are much more oriented to the needs of cyclists, fortunately! However, the change with so much luggage was very stressful and people must have choked at us two girls with too much stuff to carry. At the railway station of Overveen it would only be 2 km with the bike along the country road to the campsite “Kennemer Duincamping de Lakens” in Bloemendaal aan Zee. Stupidly I am so heavily packed that I immediately fall down, when I try to drive on the heavy packed bike. So we start walking…
The weather can be unpredictable at the end of July on the coast, we build our tent on the small youth area in the strong wind and are grateful for every minute in which it does not drizzle. The first night is so stormy that the pavilions fly over the square. Even during the day it is so windy that we sit in the wind shadows of the wash house to read. Nevertheless, we are satisfied, here you can get to know people quickly, even if it can sometimes be a bit noisy at night. There is a short walk directly to the beach and campsite is right next to the dunes national park, where you can make wonderful bicycle tours.
For the first few days, we drive on our bicycles to the beautiful national park, the dunes seem endless, interrupted by lakes and isolated trees. The roads are well developed for bicycles and with some luck, even one of the wild cattle runs along the way. In the evening we sit with the neighbors at the grill and camp fire, cook with our camping gear or go again to the beach, where also a few beach bars are not far. We are hardly asked about age.
Zandvoort aan Zee is a larger coastal town right next to Bloemendaal, not particularly nice and very touristy, but we enjoy the long promenade and the wide beaches. The weather is still not as summery as we had hoped for. With a bakery roll in our hands, we sit on a bench on the promenade and are fascinated by the many wind and kite surfers. It is usually too windy and cool for bathing, but we run in the morning before breakfast for a short bath in the waves and enjoy every sunny and windless minute at the beach.
The larger neighboring town Haarlem is also not far by bike, a typical Dutch city with plenty of water and great shopping. We eat “lekker” ice cream and fries. It is fun to ride with the bike everywhere so uncomplicated! The cities in the Netherlands are for me anyway a wonderful mix of old building and future thinking.
We knew before the trip, that it is only 25 km from the campsite to Amsterdam, when we then also everywhere see the signposted bike paths, nothing can stop us – at two days we go there and back on our bikes. The route is equipped with bicycle paths and signs, the only thing that can be a bit hard is the opposite wind. But without a cursing, no bike trip.
Amsterdam is simply a great city, everywhere these channels and the relaxed mood (also thanks to the many cyclists). We browse through the many small shops, look for flea markets and drive with the city map in hand. There are numerous hip second hand shops and the red light district is entertaining. The bikes we find again in the end of the day, but the cycle path out of the city is not so easy to find…
On our 9th day we had so many different neighbors, the majority only stay for 1-2 nights, many come from Germany. The atmosphere is familiar, you get to talk quickly and sit together in the evening. We have finally got used to the wind, the dunes have become our home, the sea our morning shower to wake up after the cold nights. Finally, we get a real summer day, we spend the whole day at the beach and finally get deeper into the water. The long bike tours have left their mark, we are glad to leave the bikes near the tent.
On the way back, our already much too heavy bags are bursting at the seams. Of course, we did not think about how much we would shop here … and without a few “lekkere” Dutch Foods in the luggage you can not leave this country. Alone traveling at 17 was certainly easier then we expected! 😉
Any tipps how to travel in the Netherlands? 🙂0